Oregon businesses debate store policy after CDC loosens new mask rule

SALEM, Ore. —Governor Kate Brown announced Thursday Oregon will be following the CDC’s new guidance for mask-wearing. The CDC is lifting mask and social distancing requirements, for fully vaccinated people.

Individual businesses are still allowed to enforce mask restrictions if they want to keep them in place.  But now, virtually all of them, are trying to figure out how they want to move forward, after Thursday’s surprising announcement.

“If we all continue to do our part, the pandemic is coming closer to an end,” said Governor Brown.

Oregon is a step closer to a return to normalcy. The CDC, easing indoor and outdoor mask restrictions, for people who’ve been fully vaccinated.

If they’re inside crowded places like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters, they still need to wear a mask and social distance. And Oregon will follow its lead.

“Some businesses may prefer to simply continue operating under the current guidance now, rather than worrying about verifying vaccination status, and that’s fine,” said Governor Brown.

I spent much of the day contacting local grocery stores to see if they’re changing mask restrictions. At Trader Joe’s in Medford, the manager said they’re no longer enforcing masks. He said they’re the honor system with customers. But some Medford shoppers are worried, that some people will take advantage.

“All of the people who have been debating about wearing masks, they are going to take advantage and say I’ve been vaccinated and who can stop them,” says Medford resident, Andres Fernandez.

Fernandez says he’s been vaccinated. He plans to keep wearing his mask in stores, even if they’re no longer required. At least 70% of the state has been vaccinated.

“Yeah the grocery store for sure, probably not in gatherings or something like that, but at least where there are other folks at risk I will wear my mask,” said Fernandez.

But some people are excited about making the change as soon as possible.

“I sent a message to all of my kids and all the people who matter in my life and said I can’t believe it, we are actually going to be able to go maskless,” said Teresa Davis, Corvallis resident.

Teresa Davis is also vaccinated. She’s thrilled with the news.

“I’ve been obviously listening to what our governor and other knowledgeable people way smarter than I have said so I’m going to do what they say and if they say it’s okay, I’m going to go for it,” said Davis.

But don’t expect stores to lose their mask requirements immediately. Oregon Albertsons and Safeway stores, tell us, it’s still waiting for more guidance to come out from the OHA.

Fred Meyer says it also plans to keep requiring shoppers and employees to wear masks. We’ve learned that Costco and Walmart are also no longer requiring masks.

Governor Brown said the Oregon Health Authority will be providing updated guidance for businesses, employers, and others, soon.


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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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